AG Opinions and Requests

March 31, 2020

Legislative News

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TAC has highlighted recent Attorney General Opinions and Requests for Opinions of interest to counties.

Attorney General Opinions

Opinion relating to authority of counties during a crisis. KP-0296: Whether sections 229.001 and 236.002 of the Local Government Code prohibit municipal or county officials from restricting the sale of firearms through an emergency declaration (RQ-0341-KP); The Honorable Dustin Burrows, Chair, House Committee on Ways & Means, Texas House of Representatives; Whether section 229.001 and 236.002 of the Local Government Code prohibit municipal or county officials from restricting the sale of firearms through an emergency declaration.

Opinion relating to county jail operations. KP-0295: Whether revenue generated from inmates' use of a PIN debit system to pay for phone time must be credited to the county jail commissary account or to the county general fund (RQ-0309-KP); Revenue generated from inmate use of a PIN debit system to pay for phone time must be credited to the county's general fund.

Opinion relating to county utility services. KP-0294: Whether a real estate inspector is authorized to perform inspections of sewer lines by camera (RQ-0307-KP); Occupations Code chapter 1102's express authorization for a real estate inspector to provide an opinion on real estate's "plumbing systems" likely includes a camera inspection; thus, to the extent the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners' rule requires a real estate inspector to get a plumber's license to perform a job that is within the scope of the real estate inspector’s license, a court would most likely consider the rule invalid.

Opinion relating to permits and licensing. KP-0293: Whether the Texas Pawnshop Act preempts municipal regulation of dealers in secondhand personal property who also transact business as a pawnshop (RQ-0306-KP); The Pawnshop Act generally vests the Legislature with exclusive authority regarding the operation of pawnshops. The Legislature included a pawnbroker's purchase of personal property, without condition of future redemption by the seller, within the scope of pawnshop operations preempted by the Act.

As part of its exclusive governance, the Pawnshop Act creates procedures for pawnshops to record the sale of personal property and cooperate with law enforcement to prevent transactions in stolen property. A municipality therefore has no authority to create its own procedures for that purpose.

A municipality does have authority to reduce the amount of time pawnbrokers must retain purchased goods to a period of less than 20 days.

Opinion relating to the court. KP-0292: Authority to establish salaries of the staff of a multicounty court at law (RQ-0305-KP); Under section 25.2702 of the Government Code, the judge of the 1st Multicounty Court at Law does not possess the authority to set the salaries of the official court reporter and the court administrator.

The commissioners court may reduce salaries of the court reporter and the court administrator of the multicounty court at law without giving the judge specific notice before adopting the budget.

The commissioners court must set reasonable salaries for the court reporter and the court administrator, subject to judicial review in district court for abuse of discretion.

Requests for Attorney General Opinions

Request relating to the court. RQ-0338-KP: The Honorable Geanie W. Morrison, Chair, House Local & Consent Calendars Committee, Texas House of Representatives; Authority of a county investigator to carry a firearm in the courtroom.

Request relating to permits and licensing. RQ-0337-KP: The Honorable Tracy O. King, Chair, House Committee on Licensing and Administrative Procedures, Texas House of Representatives; Whether the State may require title and registration for three-wheeled, electric, low-speed vehicles.